Utrecht

Review: Vis en Friet, Utrecht

There’s a new hipster chip shop in Utrecht and instead of just *thinking* about going for months on end and never getting around to it, like I did with Frietwinkel, I only bloody went on Monday.

I happened to be in Utrecht, as we had friends over from England and we also happened to be hungry whilst walking past the new ‘Vis en Friet’ on Oudegracht. I’d seen on Instagram that Great Little Place Utrecht had already given it a thumbs up, so in we went.

Vis en Friet, Utrecht

So, what do you need to know? The shop itself is tiny, there are only 3 seats inside and space for about 7 people outside depending on how much personal space you require…

They have the same potato cutting machine as Frietwinkel, but I wasn’t there when they cut the chips, so no video. Soz.

Vis en Friet, Utrecht

The chips are gooooood. As good as Frietwinkel’s. They have definitely got competition on their hands!

The fish is also delicious, it was a little bit greasy for my liking, but that seems to be pretty standard with kibbeling here.

Prices are the same as Frietwinkel for a small portion, but they’ve undercut them on the large portions by a whopping 25 cents!! 😉

Vis en Friet, Utrrecht

Like Frietwinkel, they also have the separate little sauce cups so you don’t have to deal with the soggy-at-the-top, dry-at-the-bottom chip situation. Though I must say, the portion of sauce was a bit stingy and we did have to end up ordering another one! (50 cents. Welcome to Holland!!)

Overall, the quality vs price was spot on.

I think Frietwinkel has the edge over Vis en Friet, only slightly though… by being more instagrammable. The cones, the branding, the funny sandwich board outside. Hipsters love that shit. (FYI – I’m sooooo not a hipster. Not even close.)

Speaking of hipster, the music the dude had on was awesome. He was playing reggae, but not your standard, run of the mill reggae: Groundation and Alpha Blondy. The Dutchie was in heaven. We were only there for 10-15 minutes and they played two of his favourite reggae songs within that time! So bonus points from the Dutchie for music selection!

Vis en Friet, Utrecht

So I guess my advice is… take heed of their super unimaginative, yet highly functional names. If you just want chips, Frietwinkel is your boy. If you’re lusting after fish AND chips, Vis en Friet is the one for you.

Anyone hungry now?? I bloody am!

Hayley x

 

THE LOWDOWN:

Klein portie – €2,50 | Groot portie – €3,00

Fish and chips €6,90

Vismarkt 14, 3511 KS Utrecht

 

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Review: Frietwinkel Utrecht

I’ve been meaning to go here for months… so when my parents came to visit a few weeks back, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to grab a cone of the best chips in town! (Apparently.)

Frietwinkel Utrecht

The ‘rents had stopped in Bruges on the way to the Netherlands and had friet met mayo right in front of the Belfry tower – so the stakes were high. Frietwinkel had to deliver… and luckily for us they did! They’re number #1 on Trip Advisor of places to eat in Utrecht – for very good reason.

But they’re *just* chips I hear you cry! Yes, they are just chips. But they are bloody good chips!!

A nice ‘gimmick’ is that they cut them in front of you, so you can see just how fresh they are. I made a little video, voilà:

“De eerste BIOLOGISCHE FRIETWINKEL van Utrecht.”

The first organic chip shop in Utrecht. I don’t care about organic tbh – but maybe you do.

Frietwinkel Utrecht

Frietwinkel Utrecht

Cheap, tasty, instagrammable. I’m sold.

And do you want to know the best thing?? They have these clever cones with 2 compartments that keep the sauce separate from the chips!! (I really want to shout “yes lads!!” now.) Oh fuck it… YES LADS!!!

You know how annoying it is when you get a massive blob of mayo or ketchup or whatever at the top of the cone… then you get soggy chips at the top (with waaaay too much sauce) and then the rest of your chips (3/4) have no sauce… Bloody annoying.

But here, the sauce is separate! (I would like to take this moment to personally congratulate the awesome human being who invented these cones. I’m a little bit in love with you.)

And now for the downside… the service isn’t great. But remember you’re in Holland… customer service pretty much doesn’t exist here. So just deal with it.

At least whoever makes the signs has a sense of humour!! 🙂

Eet smakelijk!

Hayley x

 

THE LOWDOWN:

Klein portie – €2,50 | Groot portie – €3,25

Vinkenburgstraat 10, 3512AB Utrecht | frietwinkel.nl

 

This is not a sponsored post. I just really like chips. 

 

(Dutch-related) stuff that happened in April 2015

I was just about to write a post about my “Eating Amsterdam” trip – but then I realised I only posted 3 times in April – and sooooo much happened last month! So that one will have to wait for now… and in the meantime you get a kinda summary post about April, you lovely springy sunny month, you! (Well, mostly.)

Not sure if I’m going to make this a regular thing, but it’ll do for now as I have a few things I want to write about but they don’t necessarily need individual posts.

So, roughly in chronological order (I totally just went downstairs to get my calendar – goldfish brain!!) here’s the Dutch-related stuff that happened to me in April 2015:

1. I ate Amsterdam.

As in, I went on a food tour of Amsterdam and ate EVERYTHING. Even drop (liquorice)… my nemesis. Are you proud?

I will write a whole post about this (promise) because it was amazing. But in the meantime, here’s a picture of some bitterballen. Because, duh.

Bitterballen on the Amsterdam Food Tour

Bitterballen on the Amsterdam Food Tour

2. My 1 year Expat Anniversary

I was just about to post this and then I realised I totally forgot to even mention the fact that I have lived in the Netherlands for a year! What did I do to celebrate? I went to Germany on a business trip… ha ha. Oh well, there’s always next year…

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the fact it’s been a whole year… in some ways it’s gone by in a flash and in other ways… I can watch Dutch films and TV and listen to Dutch radio… and TALK DUTCH TO DUTCH PEOPLE. So that’s still mind-blowing to me.

I read an article today about “Being stuck in the middle of two worlds” by Amanda (of Expat Life with a Double Buggy fame) and I totally relate. She says “I’ll never be mistaken for being Dutch, yet I don’t feel that England is my home anymore.” TOTALLY, TOTALLY get it.

Also love that she compares expat life to Tom Branson moving into Downton Abbey. This makes me laugh, nod along and feel like something is missing at the same time. (And if you don’t watch Downtown Abbey… YOU NEED IT IN YOUR LIFE – LIKE – NOW.)

3. My sister came to visit – so we went to Utrecht

Not really news in itself… except that we properly did Utrecht: A guided walking tour, a canal tour AND we walked all 465 steps to the top of the Dom tower! Oh, and my sister is 5 and a half months pregnant… so there’s that too.

Utrecht gearing up for the Tour de France in July

Utrecht gearing up for the Tour de France in July

And now from the top! For reference… look for the red bike…

View from the top of the Dom Tower, Utrecht

View from the top of the Dom Tower, Utrecht

As with #1, this trip will also get a full blog post shortly… I took a bazillion photos despite it being a dreary old day.

4. Visited Keukenhof

I totally get it. This is one of those touristy things you have to do, once. And once was enough!

We went on a Friday, a very sunny Friday and it was ram-packed. I’m not going to do a blog post about this, because Jennifer over at Expat Lingo has already summed the experience up perfectly!! Here’s her step-by-step virtual tour: Tramped under the tulips at the Keukenhof

Instead… here are a few snaps I manged to take without 20 people getting in the way:

Tulips at the Keukenhof

Keukenhof

Keukenhof

Flower fields near the Keukenhof

Pretty, huh?

And to give you a small glimpse into the volume of tourists…

Windmill carnage

Windmill carnage

5. Blogger meet-up

By far one of my highlights in April was meeting up with some fellow bloggers. In addition to Jennifer from Expat Lingo, who I’ve just mentioned above, I also met up with Sophie from Sophie in Clogs, Aislinn from Ace the Adventure and Alison of A Flamingo in Utrecht. We met at Alison’s gorgeous Italian wine bar, Vino Veritas which is co-owned with her Italian partner Giovanni.

Vino Veritas, Utrecht

Vino Veritas, Utrecht

It was a fantastic evening and we have already set a date to meet up again in June! Fascinating to meet other expat bloggers and share our stories. With wine, of course!

6. King’s Day

Last, but by no means least, were the birthday celebrations of King Willem-Alexander on 27th April. Once again, the weather did not disappoint, despite the forecasts consistently predicting rain until the day itself! Phew!

King's Day in Amsterdam

(We definitely have a problem. We have so much orange crap it’s hard to know what to wear!!)

Orange clothing for King's Day

In the end I plumped for a tiara with orange fluff (classy), Dutch flags painted on my face (standard) plus the following ensemble…

IMG_3766

King’s Day afternoon was spent strolling around the canals, meeting up with friends and listening to live music. The evening was a haze of wine, beer, new Dutch “friends” and more beer. How about you?

Thanks April. You were awesome.

Hayley x

Is it possible to get bored of Utrecht?

Clue: No.

On Sunday we went to Utrecht (again – which must be about my 123rd trip!) Ok, kidding, but I have been around 10 times… and for me, it never gets old. The reason? It’s just so darn pretty… even in dreary January!

Cyclists... loads of them!

See what I mean?

De Dom

De Dom

But honestly… the real reason we went to Utrecht? KFC!! I’m laughing as I write this, as it seems so ridiculous, even to me! But hey, I’m an expat and sometimes you miss things… and on Sunday, it was the Colonel and his not-so-secret recipe.

It’s an American chain, but in the UK, we have KFCs everywhere! Over 800, in fact. In the Netherlands? 44.

And the closest one to Hilversum? Poor me 😉 we HAD to to to Utrecht… 😉

I agree wholeheartedly with their slogan: 'So good'!

I agree wholeheartedly with their slogan: ‘So good’!

After the amazing chicken… (hot wings, in case you’re not a connoisseur like me) my happy KFC bubble was rudely disturbed when I went to the loo.

gdfg

Yup, you have to pay 50 cents to use the facilities! (That’s about 40p for English folks.) Normally, at motorway services or on King’s Day… this doesn’t bother me… because it means you’ll get a clean toilet. I get it. But not having any coins means going back to the counter to change a €5 note, after I’d just spent €15 in their establishment. That is annoying. And what if you didn’t have any cash on you? Arrrgggghhhh.

Anyway, rant over. Next stop was the Wolff (City) Cinema to see The Imitation Game.

Cute statue on the way to the cinema

Cute statue on the way to the cinema

What a cracker!! Seriously one of the best films I’ve seen in the last few years. I’ve heard of Benedict Cumberbatch – with a name like that – who hasn’t!? But I’d never seen him act before… and man, can he act! Quick synopsis: English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, attempts to crack the Enigma code during World War II. If you haven’t seen it yet, go now! It hasn’t got a bazillion award nominations for nothing! Outstanding film.

Nothing to do with the film, but this cool building was close to the cinema.

Apparently a Bed Specialist... I just liked the building.

Apparently a bed specialist… I just liked the architecture.

And what to do post-cinema when it’s raining? Stop in the first pub you see, have a drink and discuss the film – of course!

blah

We stumbled upon Cafe de Bastaard and what a great place it is! Apparently it also has a small theatre. Very trendy, not too busy and loads of beers on offer, including my favourite: Kriek! (I’m a girl, so I’m allowed to like flavoured beer!)

The bar itself, as you may be able to see from the picture, is made of several long pieces of driftwood! Very cool, but I’m sure the uneven surface has caused a spillage or two, especially after a few drinks! A definite hidden gem!

blach

Where are your favourite spots in Utrecht? Any recommendations for me?

Hayley x

Een zomerdag in Utrecht

(A summer’s day in Utrecht.) At couple of weeks ago, the Dutchie and I made the most of our close proximity to Utrecht (a mere 14 mins by car or train) and spent our Saturday afternoon/evening exploring this quaint city. It’s actually the 4th largest city in the Netherlands with a population of over 300,000 people, but to me it feels somehow smaller. Like a Dutch version of Brighton… with canals and minus the sea, of course!

Mariaplaats, Utrecht

Mariaplaats, Utrecht

First we went for a glass of bubbly at Vino Veritas, an Italian wine bar run by Alison of A Flamingo in Utrecht and her partner, Giovanni. The inside of the bar is decorated with stunning pictures of Bologna, Giovanni’s home town, plus a HUGE wine rack… of course!!

Vino Veritas, Utrecht

Vino Veritas, Utrecht

If the weather is good, there’s a small terrace to sit outside and watch the world go by. We didn’t sample the food (as we were on our way to a Japanese restaurant) but the cheese and meat platters on another table looked incredibly delicious!

Vino Veritas, Utrecht

Vino Veritas, Utrecht

After our refreshing glass of Col Fondo (Prosecco – recommended by Giovanni) we went exploring… keeping our eyes peeled for Street Art and other random curiosities for me to photograph! Well, I wasn’t disappointed, there were lots of  weird and wonderful things to keep me amused!

Street Art, Utrecht

Street Art, Utrecht

This rather cool piece is painted on a side street close to Vino Veritas (Biltstraat 9). I love the colours and the LED displays… I can’t remember what they said unfortunately…

Another side street… another opportunity for street art. As you can see, cyclists don’t limit their parking for art… 😉 So make them part of the shot I say!!

In the grachten (canals) we saw a number of abandoned bikes – sad – but strangely pretty. They remind me a bit of dead umbrellas…

Utrecht Grachten

Utrecht Grachten

And another…

Utrecht Grachten

I suspect this one, on the other hand… might be a practical joke 😉

Utrecht bike

The next bike we saw wasn’t abandoned… but an advertisement. Bedrijvendag means company day. It’s a day for students to connect with potential future employees, organised by the Student Association of Utrecht. It worked for me! I certainly had to look twice at this beautiful green beastie!

Utrecht green bike

An interesting looking street, vlakbij (close by) Biltstraat…

Utrecht Shutters

After much wandering (and photo taking) in the general direction of Mariaplaats, we finally found the Japanese restaurant, Konnichi Wa, which a friend had recommended. (Of course, I’d also looked it up on Trip Advisor and Iens – a Dutch restaurant review site – just to double check!!) 😉

Konnichi Wa, Utrecht

Konnichi Wa, Utrecht

We were in sashimi-edamamebean-vegetabletempura-wasabi-misosoup-plumwine heaven!!

Sashimi, Konnichi Wa, Utrecht

A great restaurant and reasonably priced for the Netherlands. Everything we ordered was delicious and the wasabi was HOT HOT HOT! Always a good sign of a Japanese restaurant… if the wasabi is kicking, the food probably is too! 😀

My only minor critique is that the plum wine was served in a thimble!! For 5-6 euros I want a big girls glass please!!

I can’t end without including this cool shot I took of a Lion’s head fountain close to Mariaplaats. I instagrammed the crap out of it… obviously.

Lion fountain, Utrecht

Lion fountain, Utrecht

What else is there to do / see in Utrecht next time we visit?

Hayley x

Nog een dagje uit, dit keer in Utrecht

(Another day out, this time in Utrecht.) Having visited the Netherlands 30+ times, it’s quite surprising that I’ve never been to Utrecht! I went there on a girls shopping day out with the Dutchie’s Mum and sister. What a wonderful place!

De Dom

De Dom

The Dom (de Dom) Tower of Utrecht was part of the Cathedral of Saint Martin. It was never fully completed due to lack of funds. Since the unfinished nave collapsed in 1674, the Dom has remained a free standing tower. It is, in fact, the tallest church tower in the Netherlands.

St. Martin's Cathedral

St. Martin’s Cathedral, Utrecht

Although the Cathedral is unfinished, it is astonishingly beautiful. You can enter the cathedral as well as its gardens for free.

Building with red and white shutters, close to de Dom

Building with red and white shutters, close to de Dom

There are many pretty buildings in Utrecht including the University, Janskerk church and the traditional Dutch houses on the bank of Oude Gracht. I liked this building with it’s pretty red and white shutters. I later found out online is actually the Nationale Ombudsmen building on Drift 17 Street.

Bikes & canal, Utrecht

Bikes & canal, Utrecht

I literally cannot walk past a canal with bikes attached to the railings and not take a photo!! As an English girl, it still makes my heart flutter. Zo mooi!! (So beautiful!!)

Cool art shop in Utrecht

Cool art shop in Utrecht

Another thing that both surprises me and gives me a warm fuzzy feeling is the abundance of independent shops in the Netherlands! Obviously, they do also have retail chains (& McDonalds!!) but there are so many small, privately owned shops it’s unreal. In the UK, the vast majority of shops are big brand chains, the independent market is really dying out, sadly. It’s a really good feeling to walk down a high street in Holland and see so many small independents thriving!

McDonalds, Utrecht

McDonalds, Utrecht

And there it is! McDonalds! Albeit a prettier one that you’d see here in the UK. I didn’t eat there, obviously… I went to a typical Dutch cafe and had (you guessed it…) bitterballen! I must have been too hungry/excited to take a photo though… oops.

Hayley x